Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Welcome back, friends! 

Last Wednesday, I told you all that I had fun plans for the weekend so I'm back today with a little recap!  In case you don't remember or didn't see that post, I was asked to judge my university's Miss Northwestern Lady of the Bracelet pageant on Friday so I decided to make a whole weekend out of it.

I went to school at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA.  (Sidenote: Natchitoches is pronounced "Nak-uh-tish"...not to be confused with Nacogdoches in TX where Stephen F. Austin is.)  Y'all, I've said it before but I had the BEST college experience.  I would do it all over again in a heartbeat with only a few minor changes. (I won't get into what those would be.  hahaha) Our college town is super quaint, cute and SMALL.  The speed limit is basically 25 mph almost everywhere.  And it's where they filmed Steel Magnolias so that's our claim to fame.

In February of 2002 (my sophomore year), I decided to enter the Miss Northwestern Lady of the Bracelet pageant.  I was at NSU on an academic scholarship but it wasn't a completely full ride.  The pageant awarded a bunch of scholarship money to the winner and my parents said that if I won, it would cover the rest of my tuition and then some...and I could get a new car!  I REALLY wanted that car, y'all.  So I entered, hoping for the best, having only competed in one other pageant at my high school, and hoping that I wouldn't fall flat on my face in front of an auditorium full of my friends, sorority sisters and cute boys. 😉 And I won!  New (to me) car--yes, please!

(OMG those pencil thin eyebrows!  🙈)

The Lady of the Bracelet pageant is a preliminary to Miss Louisiana so...I had to go on to compete at Miss Louisiana that June where I most definitely did not win.  😂😂😂 I literally had no business being there and was surrounded by pageant girls who worked their tails off to make their dreams come true.  My suite-mate ended up as 1st runner-up that year (and won the next year) and she was AMAZING.  We were like total pageant opposites.  She was "A" and I was "Z".  She had a pageant coach, voice coach, trainer etc and spray-tanned herself to death every night.  Our whole bathroom was covered in some sort of spray tan/bronzer stuff. 

And then there was me.  I'd hit the tanning bed before I left for the week (it was a week-long event and yes, we still worshipped the tanning bed in 2002 because we were stupid) but that's about it.  I had no trainer...I just ran around campus, ran the stairs by the tennis courts and lifted 5-8lb weights in my apartment bedroom while putting myself on a low-cal diet for a few months.  My talent (singing) was maybe a 7 on the vocal scale and there was no voice coach.  Although I definitely could have used one.  And when the pageant officials came by to check everyone's pageant clothes including our "on stage interview" outfits in case we made it to the top 5...well I didn't even BRING ONE!  There were 30 contestants and there was no way I was making top 5.  I still remember their faces when I told them I didn't even have one. Total shock.  I told them repeatedly they had nothing to worry about.  It wasn't happening. Let it go.

In all honesty, being Miss Louisiana did not sound fun to me and I was more than happy to just enjoy that whole week and not stress.  It was an absolute blast and I loved every minute of it.  Every single one of the girls was amazing, fun, sweet, kind, and talented.  I felt honored just to be part of that group.

And I promised y'all pictures so here are a few from way-back-when.  They aren't the best quality since they are all pictures of pictures.  No digitals.  Man, life was rough back then.  ;)

The swimsuit picture was taken backstage right before the swimsuit competition at Miss Louisiana.  I ended up getting the Non-Finalist Swimsuit Award which was the absolute biggest shock for me.  I didn't even know that award existed and I was just chatting away happily at my table during the post-pageant reception when they announced my name.  It took my pageant director practically yelling my name to get me to realize what was going on.  But I was so proud of that award!  I wasn't completely inconsequential after all!

Craig was in Colorado training for the NFL draft when I competed at Miss Northwestern so he wasn't able to be at that pageant and he was in Green Bay during Miss Louisiana.  We were on/off at that time but I still remember calling him to tell him I won LOB.  He was beyond thrilled for me and so proud.

When I had to give up my title at the next year's pageant though, he was there!

This was the program for the 2003 pageant. As a graphic designer of sorts, I really wish they'd gone with a cuter font. 😉

And this was my little collage inside with pictures from the Miss Louisiana pageant (top) and my year as L.O.B.  (Affectionately called "the Lob" by many of my guy friends on campus.)

I remember that bikini top being padded to within an inch of its life.  #pushemup #ohtobe21again 😂

I keep my trophy and some high school and college memorabilia in a little desk area upstairs.  The crown needs to be polished and a few rhinestones are missing so it's definitely seen better days.

And if you're wondering what the deal is with the name "Lady of the Bracelet", here's a quick explanation.  In 1958, Kahne Dipola was crowned the very first Lady of the Bracelet and was given a gold bracelet to wear when she represented to the school.  Each year the winner is given a gold bracelet with the engraved charms (names and years) of past queens.  At the end of her reign, her charm is added to the bracelet and passed on to the next winner.  Since this was the 62nd year for the pageant, and 62 charms is a lot, there is now 1 retired bracelet on display and one current one.  I think the current one only dates back to the 1980s.

And that's the flashback part of this post. Now on to my fun weekend!  I love love love love love coming back to this sweet town.  I've only been back a handful of times since I've graduated and its always a fun mix of seeing all the new things that have been added and reminiscing at the stuff that hasn't changed a bit in 15 years.

Craig and the boys stayed behind in Mckinney because of baseball and football stuff so it was just me and I was not mad about it.  Sometimes it's just good to get away from your daily life and breathe a little easier, right?

I drove in on Thursday afternoon (a 4 hour drive) and headed straight to Front Street because I was picking up a tshirt that I had bought online from my sorority sister's boutique.  Just passing all these adorable houses made my heart sing, friends.

I picked up my tee (plus 3 others...) and roamed around for another half hour or so because it's just so pretty.  They've done a lot to enhance Front Street (made of bricks and on the Cane River) since I was there but the majority of it was still the same.  Heaven.

If you're a fan of Steel Magnolias, then you may remember that Front Street is the main focus of the opening credits for the movie.  They show all the cute stores, kids running across the bricks and this bridge.

I couldn't stay there for long though because I needed to check in to our hotel and start prepping for interviews the next day.

My parents offered to split a hotel room with me so I wouldn't have to spend $500 for 3 nights (we've got some expensive weekends coming up as well) so we booked a hotel with plenty of room.  Not fancy (I mean, it's Natchitoches...) but clean and we had more than enough room for 3 adults.  But Thursday night, I had it all to myself.

And I spent it doing nothing but reading through all 8 contestants bios and platform essays, making notes and typing out interview questions.

At 9pm, I finally stopped and drove next door to grab a salad from Wendys (southwest avocado salad...yum) and watched Mom on my laptop.

I tried to get to sleep early but my mind was racing with all the things.  So glad I remembered to bring this sound machine!  I bought this on Amazon a while back and Matthew has been using it for white noise in his room but I knew I'd need it in the hotel room.  I cannot sleep when it's dead silent and I also can't sleep when I hear people talking out in the hall or the ice machine or elevator being used.  I got this bad boy HERE and it's amazing.  You can find a cheaper version HERE though!

The next day (Friday), I was expected at the school by 9am along with the other 4 judges.

We ate breakfast and then had a mock-interview with the outgoing L.O.B., Jourdan Waddell, who is the sweetest, most beautiful thing ever.  She also happens to be a Tri Sigma which makes me a proud sister. She showed me her bracelet after the interview and we found my charm!  Super tarnished but it's there!  You probably can't make out "Amanda Crain"  but it's resting on her pinky finger.

And then it was interview time.  I'll admit that I was really nervous for the first 30 seconds but after that, it was smooth sailing.  I absolutely LOVED being a judge and asking these girls questions like "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?", "If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?" and "If you're crowned Lady of the Bracelet, what would you want your legacy to be?'.  The girls did so well during the interviews and I was so proud of them and so happy I was not them all at the same time.

Once interviews were over, we walked over to the Union for a farewell luncheon for Jourdan and then headed over to the auditorium and settled ourselves into the balcony where we would judge the pageant.  The pageant started at 3pm and although I already had a front-runner based on the interviews, I was so eager to see what the girls would bring on stage!

Look how gorgeous Jourdan looks on the cover of the program!  She definitely won't be having eyebrow remorse 17 years from now...

I loved seeing all 61 past Miss Northwesterns toos!  (I'm on the left near the bottom.)

And finally, it was show time! 

Jourdan and Meagan Crews (the current Miss Louisiana) came out during the opening number looking all kinds of adorable.  (Next three pics courtesy of the LOB FB page.)

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We asked each girl an on-stage question, saw each of their talents and watched them as they strutted their stuff in their gorgeous evening gowns.  This is the first year that the Miss America organization has done away with swimsuit so there was no swimsuit competition.

After two hours, we had our winner!  Madeleine (Maddy) Hensely stood out to me from the very beginning.  She was Contestant #8 (the last contestant) and I remember being the last contestant when I competed.  She had a rock solid interview, was articulate, smart, well-spoken and just had a beautiful radiance about her.  She performed a lyrical dance to Don't Stop Me Now for her talent and looked poised and elegant in her evening gown.  (Although all of the judges agreed that she should wear emerald green for Miss Louisiana!)

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The runners-up were so worthy.  From left to right:  3rd runner up, 1st runner up, winner, 2nd runner up.  With a little more practice and polish, any of them could be next year's winner.

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My parents had gotten into town while I was busy with interviews that morning and my dad snapped this picture of us judges up in the balcony after the pageant.  Again, this was SO FUN and I hope I get the chance to do it again sometime.

After the pageant, we headed back to the room to change.  My feet were killing me in the heels I'd been wearing so I was grateful for jeans and flats.  And then it was time for dinner!

El Nopal was my FAVORITE restaurant back in the day.  You could get chips, salsa and the very best quesadillas ever made for around $8.  Yes PLEASE!

Since I've left, they've moved a few doors down to a bigger building and it is still busting at the seams.  But thankfully, the food has not changed one single bit.  I went completely off my Keto diet this weekend and this meal was 100% worth it.

On the way out, I snapped a picture of the Crawfish Hole next door because the building is just an icon. That crawfish could definitely use a paint job though.

After dinner, we drove back down to Front Street to wander around and see the sights.

Are my parents not the cutest?!  And also total marriage goals.  They've been together since 7th/8th grade and are two peas in a pod.  I can't imagine one without the other.  They are the perfect compliments to each other.  Plus they are fun to hang out with so they are great traveling companions for each other but also for me!

This is what you get when your mom tells you to "Go stand by that thing so I can get a picture."  😂

We got back to the room and were all so tired.  I stayed up watching new Fall shows I'd missed from that week with my ear buds in but only lasted until around 10:45 until I was done.  That's really early for this girl!

The next morning, my parents were up way earlier than me and left to go find breakfast and do some more wandering.  That left me on my own to get ready for GAMEDAY!  Our football team had a home game at 6 so I showed off my school spirit with one of my new purchases from Simply Chic Boutique along with my orange gameday earrings (from my Etsy shop!) #ForkEmDemons 

Hotel lighting is the WORST but I wanted to show you my favorite jeans of late as well.  These are Kan Can jeans and I found them HERE.  I found them pretty TTS but if you are between sizes you may want to size up.  They are also stretchy which I wasn't expecting and hit right at my ankles perfectly instead of being too long. (I'm 5'5".)  If you can't find your size on Amazon, be sure to check HERE too.  They have these on there every once in a while!

(PS:  These flip flops are the comfiest flip flops ever made.  I swear by them. I've got them in black and in beige and they are what I wear 95% of the time during flip flop weather.  I've been posting about them for at least 2 years now and they look just as good now as the day I got them.)

I was ready to roll and ready to go meet up with my bestie from college!!  I convinced her to come into town since she lives a few hours away from Natchitoches and we hardly ever get to see each other.  Jessica and I grew up together in Texarkana, TX all our lives and decided to go to NSU together.  The only two from our town!  In college, we became sorority sisters, best friends, and roommates.  We have the best memories of those 4 years together and I love getting to see her!

I met up with her and her family at the St. Denis hotel off of Front Street.  How cute is this courtyard outside the hotel?!

She was in town with her husband, Stephen who was her college boyfriend although they spent 10 years apart before finding each other again (long story), getting married and starting a family.  They have 1 son named Luke who is 17 months and a sweet baby girl, Ava, who is 3 months.  So it was definitely not easy to get them to Natchitoches but she said they were grateful to get out of the house.  It's so strange seeing her with these babies and knowing we are a full decade apart when it comes to kids!

We ate lunch with her family and her parents who were also in town at Maglieaux's and let me tell you...all thoughts of Keto were out the window.  My mom had already been on my case about "not losing any more weight" (Moms, #amIright?) so I showed her that I agreed and ate whatever the heck I wanted all weekend.

I ended up choosing the Cornbread Crawfish which was basically a slice of corn casserole with crawfish etouffee poured on top.  Oh my heavens...I had forgotten how good Cajun food was.  Give me all the crawfish. #perfection

As we ate, the best baby in the world napped right next to me.  Isn't she precious?!

After lunch, we took a stroll down by the river to chat and admire all the gorgeous new changes that have been made since we've been gone.

Jessica's parents decided to take a turn on the carriage so we could catch up.

It's still strange seeing my wild bestie from college as a mom!

Luke loved this little bridge and spent a good five minutes going back and forth. 

We tried to get a family picture of the 4 of them but you should see how many shots I took while Luke squirmed and cried in Stephen's arms!  😂😂😂  This was the best they got which I thought was actually pretty good, considering.

Total mom life:  Sometimes you just have to grab your toddler like a sack of potatoes and carry him off whether he likes it or not. 😂

Before we left, we managed to snag a pic of just the two of us.

And while we were roaming around on one side of Front Street, my parents were down at the other end enjoying the views.

After a while, Jess needed to get her kids back to the room for naps so we all headed back to the hotel.  On the way back, I slowed down long enough to snap a picture of the Steel Magnolias house.

Here it is in the wedding scene!

320 Jefferson St Natchitoches Louisiana Steel Magnolias House

So fun!  I have a sorority sister who is from Natchitoches and was an extra (the flower girl) in the movie!  If you've never seen this movie, stop what you're doing right now and go watch it!  It's a classic.  Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Daryl Hannah...all at their very best.

Back at the hotel, we all napped.  I'm not a big napper but we had nothing to do from about 3-5 so naptime sounded great.  And then it was game time!

Several years ago, NSU made these columns for the top 100 players in NSU history and Craig is one of them!  So we had to stop and take pictures!

I sent these to Craig and the boys and Matthew thought it was so cool.  #weheart16


 Unfortunately, the game got a bit out of hand around the 3rd quarter...and not in our we decided to cut our losses and head back to the room.  We may not have won the game but we had such a great weekend.  I always have a great time with my parents and then to add in my bestie and her sweet family as was just so much fun.

We've got even more football fun coming up over the next couple of weekends.  This weekend the Packers are here in Dallas and we are taking the boys to their very first NFL game.  They are so excited they can barely stand it!  And then next weekend, Craig and I are off to Green Bay for the Monday night game!  PLUS, it's my birthday on Saturday!!

Find me on Instagram HERE to follow along and as always, be sure to join my Daily Deals FB page for all the fun finds at great prices!  

Happy Wednesday, friends!



  1. Happy birthday to my birthday twin! You look so pretty in all of these picture; you could still totally pass as a co-ed. What a fun weekend!

    1. I felt super old talking to those 19 year olds. One of them (not a pageant contestant) kept mentioning her mom as in "Yeah my mom does that too". 😂 Thank you so much!! Happy (almost) birthday!!

  2. Looks like an amazing weekend! Your college town is beautiful. I love the movie Steel Magnolias!

    1. Thank you! I've got itch to go watch it again even though I've seen it a million times!

  3. You look so pretty standing next to Craig's banner!


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